The C-Suite: Social-free Zone – but IBM’s report says things are cool

English: IBM's Watson computer, Yorktown Heigh...

IBM’s Watson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

IBM‘s latest report on global CEOs – Leading Through Connections – makes fascinating reading and I commend it to you in extenso. It is packed with data and based on interviews with many hundreds of the top corporate (and some other) leaders.

But I have a problem. I just don’t find it very convincing. The answers are too good, too positive, too forward-looking. And on�the core issue of “leading through connections,” social, while the nostrums are as expected the evidence (as we know separately; see various earlier blogs here and much elsewhere) is that hardly any top CEOs (or CIOs! hard though that is to believe) are engaged with social at all. In fact, the evidence suggests that the Fortune 500 C-Suite is largely a social-free zone.�

My problem is that knowing this distracting fact undermines my confidence in the generally smooth prose of the report at large.

Read it, and read the social-usage evidence, and try to make sense of a situation that looks so good from the outside (or, should I say, from the inside; it’s the CEOs themselves who shaped the data in this document).

The Grim Details on CEOs and Social; 14/500 are tweeting, for example

An Evening with the Fortune 500, May 7, 2012

An Evening with the Fortune 500, May 7, 2012 (Photo credit: Fortune Live Media)

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion, as these bizarre studies keep tumbling in, that serious personal engagement in social media is an absolute prerequisite for corporate leadership in 2012. And given the numbers, it’s also the single biggest opportunity for developing competitive advantage.

And here’s a project – anyone want to team up? Remedial social education camp: Every Fortune 500 CEO and other C-Suite denizen, every member of their boards, unless they are in the tiny minority actively and seriously engaged, needs to come spend a week being enabled to understand the single most dynamic force in the world in which they are operating.

Here are some of the most telling numbers.

  • 5 of the 19 CEOs on Twitter have never tweeted, and other accounts are “underutilized”
  • 25 of the 38 CEOs on Facebook have less than 100 friends
  • only four CEOs are on Google+ (including Larry Page)
  • not a single Fortune 500 CEO is on Pinterest

Here’s the report. Pour yourself a stiff drink before opening.

http://www.ceo.com/wp-content/themes/ceo/assets/F500-Social-CEO-Index.pdf